Written by Bill Whitt
June 18, 2024

How To Balance Love and Truth

An important task of church renewal is inspiring churches to hold fast to the truth while also exuding love.

The Gospel of John says Jesus came full of grace and truth (John 1:14), and the apostle Paul urged Christians to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Even so, many churches today are struggling to find a way to be loving and truthful at the same time.

  • Many people today say they experience Christians as neither loving nor truthful. In a recent visioning process, my church found that 62 percent of people in our community agreed with the statement that Christians do not behave as Christ would behave (up 33 percentage points since 2017).
  • About 71 percent said they might leave their church because of conflicts, and another 54 percent said they might leave their church because it was abandoning traditional values.

An important task of church renewal is inspiring churches to hold fast to the truth while also exuding love. This task may seem impossible at times, but there are simple steps we can take to get started.

Five Ideas to Promote Both Love and Truth
Idea 1. Teach it from the pulpit
  • A quick search of your concordance will reveal just how frequently these themes arise in the Bible. When they appear in your sermon texts, don’t skim past them. Dwell on them and highlight their importance. Make the expectation clear, and unapologetically call people to a higher standard.
Idea 2. Incorporate them into vision statements
  • As part of our church’s recent visioning effort, we brought the verbiage of love and truth right into our new mission statement. We elevated these concepts to the highest level because they are critical to the church’s future.
Idea 3. Celebrate it when you see it
  • When someone shares the truth in a loving way, call it out. Ask them to share their story in the form of a testimony. Celebrate these wins at council meetings and staff meetings.
Idea 4. Correct it when you don’t see it
  • Remember, culture is not just what you celebrate. It’s also what you tolerate. When someone does not maintain a commitment to both love and truth, speak to them about it, and help them find a better way.
Idea 5. Expect Tension
  • As you seek to express both love and truth, some people will believe you are too loving, while others will believe you are being too close-minded. When you hear both sides express concern, you’ll know you are managing the tension well. If you ever resolve the tension and no longer feel it, you have probably erred too far to one side. Don’t expect the tension to go away.

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